What Are Some Of The Common Major Risk Factors For Stroke?

This article contains the major risk factors for stroke, how stroke occurs, and how it can be prevented.

Stroke is defined as "a sudden loss of consciousness, sensation, and loss of voluntary motion caused by a rupture or obstruction in part of the brain" (Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary). Strokes can be caused by either a thrombus, or blood clot developed within the brain, an embolus, or a blood clot that has moved to the brain from another area, or a rupture, or bleed of an artery. When strokes happen, oxygen is denied to that area of the brain, and depending on which area is triggered, there can be sensation loss, paralyzed limbs, loss of speech, hearing or sight, etc.

Certain characteristics put one at risk for stoke. For instance, atherosclerosis, or fatty plaque build up in the arteries is a major risk factor. Atherosclerosis can be caused by a diet high in fat and cholesterol. Plaques build up on the sides of the arteries, making the space for blood to flow very narrow. This can cause a blockage, which can lead to a stroke. Even worse, some of the fatty plaques may break off, causing an embolus that travels to the brain and causes a stroke. Atherosclerosis can mostly be prevented with diet and exercise, and prevention of obesity.

This big three risk factors are obesity, hypertension (or high blood pressure), and smoking. All three of these characteristics impede blood flow to the arteries. Obesity puts one at risk for atherosclerosis, but in obese people, blood flows abnormally. Often obese people have high blood pressure, meaning their heart has to work harder to get blood flowing. Sometimes this puts an overload on the heart, and if it can't catch up, the blood can stop flowing in an area and cause a blockage. In addition, obese people are usually sedentary, meaning they don't exercise. Your body relies on your muscles to pump blood back to the heart, and if your muscles aren't pumping, the blood starts to pool, setting up a scenario for a blockage or clot. Also, obese people are at risk for getting Diabetes, which is a disease in which one of the side effects is poor blood flow, making obese people further at risk for a stroke. Finally, smoking slows blood flow considerably because of the toxins it adds to the blood, and can cause high blood pressure, leading to a stroke.

Some other risk factors for stroke are uncontrollable, such as being female, and having a family history of stroke. Stress can increase the risk of stroke, as can oral contraceptive use, so one must consider the potential hazards of the environment in their risk of stroke.

Signs of stroke include: sudden numbness or weakness, sudden loss of vision, hearing, or speech, sudden incoordination, and sudden confusion. If you exhibit these signs, you must call 911 right away so you can be transported to a hospital to stop the progress of a stroke. The best way to prevent stroke is to live a healthy, active life, and to get annual physicals from a physician to screen for the possibility of stroke.

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